High Stakes Poker Player Stanley Choi Embroiled in Wigan Football Betting Scandal Rumours3 weeks ago
High stakes poker player Stanley Choi is at the centre of what could prove to be one of the biggest sports and betting scandals the UK has ever seen – with a highstakes wager rumoured to be behind Wigan Athletic football club’s recent troubles.
Wigan Athletic were recently declared insolvent and placed in administration, just seven days after being bought from Choi’s company, International Entertainment Corporation, for £45million.
How that could happen so quickly after a buyout confounded many, but a secret recording of English Football League (EFL) Chairman, Richard Parry, may hold the answer.
“There’s a rumour that there’s a bet in the Philippines on being relegated, because the previous owner has gambling interests in the Philippines,” Parry can be heard saying in the tweeted clip above.
How that might theoretically have led to Wigan Athletic’s demise can be simply summarised as follows:
- Huge bets are placed in Asia on Wigan’s relegation from the EFL Championship down to League One.
- When that seemed unlikely, a plan to see them deducted points is introduced – clubs placed in administration are ‘fined’ 12 points – thereby almost ensuring the relegation.
If that were shown to be the case, it puts Stanley Choi firmly in the frame of possible ‘suspects’.
Choi is a multi-millionaire Hong Kong businessman who studied in the US and made his fortune from real estate operations covering hotels, casino, leisure and entertainment.
As a poker player, Choi first sprang to attention in 2012 when he lifted the Macau High Stakes Challenge SHR. That $250k buy-in tournament featured Phil Ivey, Sam Trickett and John Juanda among the prizewinners.
Choi’s win was worth over HKD$50million, a staggering $6,465,574, and he has since added roughly one major score per year since, totalling another $1.3million.
His IEC company bought Wigan Athletic in October 2018 and sold them in June 2020 to Next Leader Fund (NLF), a company which Choi was also the majority shareholder of - until just a few weeks ago.
That position was taken over by Au Yeung Wai Kay, who claimed this week that financial situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are responsible for Wigan going into administration.
That was refuted by the EFL themselves, who stated:
"The League fundamentally disagrees with the comments attributed earlier today to Mr Au Yeung Wai Kay where he stated that ‘the Covid-19 pandemic has undermined the ability to fund the Club'".
Neither Choi nor Wigan’s new owner Au Yeung have commented on the rumours, while joint administrator Gerald Krasner ‘would not comment on whether there would be a police investigation into the circumstances around the administration process’, according to press reports.
Fans, supporters’ clubs and local politicians have called for an EFL inquiry into the matter.
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